Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: The Code of the City: Standards and the Hidden Language of Place Making

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: The Code of the City: Standards and the Hidden Language of Place Making

Article excerpt

Review: The Code of the City: Standards and the Hidden Language of Place Making By Eran Ben-Joseph Reviewed by Ya-Hui Kuo Wenzao Ursuline College of Languages, Taiwan Eran Ben-Joseph. The Code of the City: Standards and the Hidden Language of Place Making. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. 256 pp. ISBN: 0-262- 02588-4 (trade cloth); US$60.00.

Eran Ben-Joseph's recently published text entitled The Code of the City: Standards and the Hidden Language of Place Making, aims to answer questions about the origins and diffusion of design standards, performance and outcome, and design standards' implications for transformation and opportunities. Ben-Joseph discusses the American place-making mode and leads us to a broader understanding of the impacts of standards and codes on urban development. More importantly, the author not only clearly and powerfully presents arguments and analyses, but also describes the factors that played a major role in standards development and how professions such as land surveying shaped urban form. Both in style and substance, Ben- Joseph's work is provocative, challenging and insightful.

To demonstrate how standards have contributed to the shaping of the neighborhoods, cities, and natural landscape, the author uses many examples from different countries to emphasize that we should look at the cultural differences and the circumstances of a plan's norm to determine what is appropriate to be built and designed, instead of adhering to the vision of an ideal average and social homogenization. Ben-Joseph proceeds over several chapters to address the impact of technological choices on planning practice and landscape, and indicates that countless landowners who care more about sale returns than the community's future have planned our cities. Last, the author emphasizes that the failure to think in community terms and to appreciate that the city is a physical thing involves losses that the future cannot repair. …

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